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Volume 2, Issue 2
Summer 2006:

From an Ample Nation

Susan Butler

Cell 2 Soul. 2006 Summer; 2(2):a13

  1. Doctor Stories and Autobiography by AJ Cronin
  2. I just love these and devoured them when writing Secrets from
    the Black Bag

  3. A Fortunate Man by John Berger
  4. Ditto, made poignant and ironic by the fact that the GP featured committed suicide later.

  5. Strange Life of Ivan Osokin by P. D. Ouspensky
  6. Ouspensky's novel about eternal recurrence, because it's a graceful way to absorb provocative concepts outside our usual experiences.

  7. The Untouchable by John Banville
  8. (About the Cambridge spies.) It's so well-written and, like Ouspensky's book, so utterly outside the field of medicine yet evocative of another facet of the human condition.

  9. The Penguin Book of Irish Verse edited by Brendan Kennelly
  10. Just about anything from The Penguin Book of Irish Verse (intro and ed by Brendan Kennelly, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1971), but especially an anonymous, very early poem called 'The old woman of Beare,' translated by Brendan Kennelly. From the Introduction: ' …an extremely moving lament for lost youth and a haunting outcry against the brutal but inevitable ravages of time (p 31).' Let me know if you can't find this and I'll input it into the computer and email it to you. I've loved this poem for 30 years.

  11. Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, Edward Fitzgerald translation
  12. Also for the ephemeral nature of human existence.

  13. A book of one's own favourite artist, to transport one to another world and for balance.
  14. Portuguese Irregular Verbs by Alexander McCall Smith
  15. Humour is so personal, but is perhaps the most important thing on this list. Suggestions: Alexander McCall Smith's Portuguese Irregular Verbs for its gentle, literate humour and Lagniappe’s wonderful, witty book called Famous Last Words.

  16. Human Comedy series by Balzac
  17. I would like my doctor to know the books in Balzac's Human Comedy series, as well Chekhov and Dostoevsky.

  18. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

    Because it shows how one mistake made in childhood can hound a life.

In late 2005, the editors of Cell 2 Soul and Dermanities launched a new section, "Why Read? — Personal Canons," which is a forum to catalog those works of art which instruct and enrich us as care givers and individuals. We invited some friends, colleagues and teachers to share those they deem canonical — books, poems, the occasional movie to which they keep returning.

The background for these selections is found in a recent editorial entitled: Why Read? An Emerging Canon.

We welcome your Personal Canon. Please click on Canon Guidelines. Kindly follow the format you see here.

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